Q:

How do you start a compost pile?

A:

Quick Answer

Start a compost pile by selecting a location, creating a 3-foot by 3-foot layer of brown materials several inches thick, adding several inches of green materials, and topping it with a small amount of topsoil. Continue adding layers until the pile is approximately 3 feet high.

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Full Answer

  1. Select the location

    Locate the compost pile in an area that is easily accessible to both the kitchen and the garden. Consult the local building authority to determine any setback issues from property lines. Do not pile the compost against wooden structures, as the process breaks down wood. The location should provide a half-day of sun and have easy access to water.

  2. Create the layers

    Use leaves, newspaper and other brown materials that are rich in carbon to create the first layer. Top with several inches of grass clippings, manure of grazing animals or other green materials to create the second layer. Spread a thin layer of topsoil to provide the microorganisms required to start the compost process. Repeat the layers to reach the desired height.

  3. Monitor the pile

    Within two weeks, the internal temperature of the pile should reach 110 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and the pile should begin to settle. If you want to add more materials to the pile, add them to the center, and turn materials from the outside to the center. You no longer need to layer materials. Keep the pile slightly moist until it is ready for use.

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